A tracheostomy collar is used to hold a tracheostomy tube in place. The collar connects to the tracheostomy plates, which work to stabilize the tube. You’ll typically replace the collar daily.

A tracheostomy is a procedure that creates an opening into your trachea, sometimes called your “windpipe,” through the skin on the outside of your neck. The procedure is done to help you breathe.

When you have a tracheostomy, air reaches your lungs through a tube that’s inserted through the opening created in your neck. Tracheostomies can be either temporary or permanent.

A tracheostomy collar is a device used to hold the tracheostomy tube in place. Tracheostomy tubes are sometimes called “tracheostomy ties.”

A tracheostomy tube is stabilized by devices called “tracheostomy plates” or “flanges” that sit flat on the throat. Tracheostomy collars are then attached to the tracheostomy plates.

Tracheostomy plates sit around the tracheostomy tube and against the neck. They have openings on either side, and tracheostomy collars, or “ties,” are inserted into each of these openings. Tracheostomy collars then wrap around the neck. Once they’re secured, they help hold the tracheostomy tube in place.

Different types of collars work in slightly different ways. Most collars are secured at the back of the neck. Some tracheostomy collars are padded to make them more comfortable.

There are two primary types of tracheostomy collars: Velcro and twill. Velcro ties secure with Velcro. Twill ties are thinner and tied with knots, similar to shoelaces. Twill ties can be cut to any size for an individualized fit.

Various brands make both types of tracheostomy collars. Sizes for children and adults are available. You can also find tracheostomy collars that fit your personal preferences. For instance, there are collars available in a variety of colors and designs as well as collars designed to be softer against your skin.

Your insurance company may cover some or all the price of tracheostomy collars. Some companies may only cover twill collars or only cover Velcro collars. You can call and talk with a plan representative if you’re not sure what’s covered by insurance.

A doctor may also have specific recommendations for the best collar for your situation.

The exact care steps depend on the type of tracheostomy collar you have, but some basic steps can help you care for any tracheostomy collar.

Most importantly, you’ll want to change your tracheostomy collar once a day or more if it gets wet, dirty, or your skin looks irritated.

To change your tracheostomy collar:

  1. It helps to have all supplies on hand, including a fresh tracheostomy collar, before you begin changing the collar.
  2. Remove any dressing before removing the collar.
  3. To prevent your tracheostomy tube from falling out while you change the collar, hold the flange gently against your neck as you remove the collar.
  4. Carefully thread the new collar through the openings in the tracheostomy flange.
  5. Secure the new collar.
  6. Place two fingers under your tracheostomy collar and place them flat on your neck to ensure the fit is correct.

It’s important to report any redness or irritation you notice to your medical team. If you experience swelling or notice an unpleasant smell, yellow-green discharge, or a rash around your tubing, contact a doctor right away. These irritations can be symptoms of an infection and require immediate medical attention.

Living with a tracheostomy

Going home with a tracheostomy can be an adjustment, but certain care strategies can help. In general:

  • Use a humidifier when you’re at home to help moisten the air you breathe.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 cups of water a day unless a doctor says otherwise.
  • Use a breathable cover or dressing to protect the opening of your stoma when you go outdoors in very hot or cold temperatures.
  • Watch out for small objects, including seeds, dust, and insects, which can enter the end of your tracheostomy tube.
  • Aim your shower water away from your tracheostomy site or use a waterproof and breathable shower cover.
  • Avoid areas that are very smoky or polluted.
  • Report any changes or concerns to a doctor as soon as possible.
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Tracheostomy collars are used to hold tracheostomy tubes in place. They wrap around the neck and secure with either Velcro or ties. Tracheostomy collars are typically changed at least once a day.

It’s important that any skin irritation, discharge, swelling, or odors observed while changing are reported to a healthcare professional right away.